Boys' basketball: Controversy erupts over Mario Soto's transfer [Updated]

Controversy has erupted over the transfer of Santa Ana Mater Dei senior forward Mario Soto to Saddleback Valley Christian.

He has sought immediate eligibility from the Southern Section via a change of residency, but Mater Dei has yet to sign off on the transfer, Southern Section spokesman Thom Simmons said.

Soto has hired an attorney, John Manly, who is alleging that Soto was subjected to bullying at the school for three years.

Manly, a Mater Dei grad who has sued his alma mater more than a dozen times since 1997, said he wrote a letter to the Diocese of Orange last week asking "the diocese to take action."

"There ought to be severe repercussions for the coaching staff," he said.

On Wednesday, in an email, Diocese spokesman Ryan Lilyengren said, "Mater Dei Catholic High School and the Diocese of Orange take the wellbeing of each and every student as a sacred duty and we dedicate ourselves to this mission in all aspects of our ministry. These concerning complaints come as a surprise to Mater Dei and the Diocese as they have not been raised before. Such allegations are taken very seriously and an internal investigation has begun.

 "Mater Dei is more than respected academic institution; the faculty seeks to form confident and loving students that respect one another and their families. Bullying and other related behavior is never tolerated."

Late Wednesday, Simmons said Mater Dei had provided the necessary information to clear Soto's transfer and now it was up to Saddleback Valley Christian to confirm the move before the Southern Section grants eligibility. Patrick Murphy, Mater Dei's president, said documentation was submitted a week ago but a "minor question" was clarified on Wednesday.

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